What do you love about living in the Manning-Great Lakes?
Living in the Manning-Great Lakes area is all about the water for me. We have some of the best rivers, lakes and beaches on the East Coast. If I’m not in, on, or around the water on a daily basis, it’s been a pretty bad day. I’ve grown up around the water, with surf lifesaving, fishing with my family, including my grandfather, who was a professional fisherman, and for the past four-and-a-half years working with the great team at Graham Barclay Marine here in Forster as the service manager. With daily water testing of all types of watercraft, the job suits me to a T!
Your grandfather was a professional fisherman … Tell us about his background and how he influenced your love of fishing?
I pretty much didn’t have a choice … I either liked fishing, or I didn’t fit in. This didn’t bother me one bit, because as far back as I can remember, the thrill of wetting a line and never knowing what was going to come along has always got my blood pumping. These days it’s a little more calculated than just throwing a line in.
Ask anyone who knew my Grandfather … everything was organised down to the last detail and tackle preparation. When Pop said, “We are going to catch Snapper here” – we caught Snapper! He was truly my hero in fishing and even though he passed away a little over two years ago, I still know he is up there watching down on me, giving me a high five with every good catch.
You have a preference for lake fishing – why?
As I have said, I spent many years fishing with dear old Pop in the ocean. The downside was that I get seasick. Pop used to always say, “You will grow out of it.” I’m pretty sure when he took me he saved money on berley, and we used to get our best catches. I used to have to stick it out ‘til it was time to come in, so these days the calm waters of the lake are a great change!
Do you have a large collection of fishing rods?
I do have a large collection of rods. I mainly target Bream, and fish catch and release tournaments. I have 32 rod and reel combos alone, just for chasing Bream. Luckily, I have a custom-built Bream/Bass fishing boat, with plenty of storage for all my gear. I normally take 12 rods and reels with me at a time. People say to me, “Why do you need so many rods and reels?”, and I always like to relate lure fishing to golf, where you normally take 13 to 15 clubs with you. There are so many different locations to fish and so many different techniques, you need so many rods rigged up, so you’re ready for anything.
Tell us about your boat?
My boat is custom built, just for the type of lure fishing I do. It is only 18 ft long and very light, but with my engine putting out close to 200 hp, it’s a blast to drive. Some days I have more fun getting to the fishing spots then I do fishing if the bite is slow, and at 125 km/h, it doesn’t take long to get there.
You’ve been entering fishing competitions for approximately seven years. How is this going?
The comps are great fun. There is always a bit of fun banter amongst the guys, and you learn heaps hanging around the guys there. For anyone wanting to get into competition fishing, there are comps out there for everyone … from team events, where you fish with a mate, to paired comps, where you get paired with a boat owner and get to fish from their boat and where you always learn something new.
You have aspirations to compete for a final place at the Australian Fishing Championships. What will it take to achieve this?
You need to compete in ABT (Australian Bream Tournament) events. They have qualifying rounds all over the country. If you finish in the top 5 in any round, you qualify for the Grand Final. If you win there, it normally means you have a spot on the televised AFC (Australian Fishing Championships). Three years ago, I qualified by winning a round in Tasmania, so not only do you get some great fishing trips, you get some pretty cool holidays also.
It is often said that a lot of patience is required in fishing … which other traits are required to make a successful fisherman?
Knowing where the fish are, what they want to eat and how they want it presented is the key. There are days where you can’t miss, and then there are days where no matter what you throw or how realistic you make it look and swim, the fish are just not interested. Those are the days where you really have to think outside the box, and the person who can do this is going to be the one to catch the fish and possibly end up fishing in front of the country on television in the AFC. No matter how many fish you catch, it’s just great being on the water and like I always say, “The worst day fishing is better than the best day working!”
Thank you Grant. Interview by Karen Farrell.
This story was published in issue 65 of the Manning-Great Lakes Focus